Apr 012014


Millennium Bridge, April

Freed from death, cats and the home counties
I bound, gazelle-like, back to the city.
She makes me smile with a text: LOL, almost.

I try the same in return.
South to North is old to new
and the surface of this thing has always been
springy, playful, post-modern.

The river cares less, flows from copse to sea regardless,
and she grins as I bounce down the other side.
St Paul’s sits behind her, grinning too.
Beautiful. She’s beautiful. It’s a yes!

We all walk incorrectly. I do what I can to please the engineers
but sometimes I think I walk more incorrectly than most.


Seatown, September

Jurassic coast. Yes, yes: I feel like a fossil.
Her swallowing of life is whole.
On the beach she charms an old couple
And adds them to her list of the in-love.

Last night I left a tea-bag on the sink
And the stain spread into the future.

Himalayas, October

She said it was greener and sweeter up here,
kinder than down there on the plain
but the mountains are tooth-white
monsters which loom, leer, command, compel:
now you see them, now you don’t.

Lakes curl their fingers, beckon like crones.
The quiet sky pulls you up with its own white, tremulous hands.
Oaks, pines, rhododendrons sit, expectant.
The air thins as you speak, becomes more and more
reluctant to help.

It’s tiring, this paused, shivering beauty,
but the little cafe and the German tourists and the bottled water
are just right for now.
I take off my hat, slap on the cream, wait for her.
The sun ignores the cream, burns my face.

Enfield, July

You were by far the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I smiled at you
about 1.4 seconds after you’d walked past me.


Mar 262014


Melbury Bubb and Ryme Intrinseca

Once upon a time there was a woman. An oldish woman. An oldish, rather-more-wrinkly-than-she-would-have-liked woman. An oldish, rather-more-wrinkly-than-she-would-have-liked woman whose husband had just been carried away by Algerian pirates. In a wheelbarrow. She was glad, really, that he’d been taken because her husband was a mean and bitter man who would make her read the Daily Mail to him every morning and watch The Voice with him every night and cook for him and call him ‘sir’ and look after him even when he didn’t really need looking after. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:56 pm
Mar 252014


Listen. Everything connects to everything else. You don’t have to try so hard.
I watch my father take his rusty-headed hammer and whack an old, bent nail
through the centre of the thing, impaling it on the green-planked, dew-damp shed.
He lights a sparkler, holds it to the fuse. Silence. Then. Slowly. It grinds, whirrs,
shivers, twirls, turns, whirls, spins, rolls, rages, spits fire like come, fizzes, chokes
and drops to the ground, rolls a little, stops dead. The cat meows and scuttles off

towards the East. Where Catherine comes to life, dies, comes to life again – there,
in Alexandria, beheaded after the wheel they try to kill her on has flown into pieces
at her touch. She converted all sorts: philosophers, our cat, even the emperor’s wife.
Each person who challenged her, each person she then won over by force of argument
or by her beauty (you wonder how much of each?) was murdered by the emperor
for being a Christian. And now, on harsh Protestant tongues, ‘break on the wheel’

is, simply, to abuse the language; and to be ‘broken on the wheel’ is to be exhausted.
I find it too easy to be broken, play the emperor: there’s a time in every old git’s life when
Leonard Cohen shifts from boring grumbly-mumbly hippy to holy carrier of all our lost
dreams and every time I hear Alexandra Leaving I think of her. Of them.
It’s said that Catherine is considered ‘one of the fourteen most helpful saints in heaven’
(any idea who’d be on the unhelpful list?) and had a vision in which she married Christ,

consecrating her virginity to him. Hmm. She told me her name was spelt with an ‘a’,
not an ‘e’ as it is for average people (or saints), and I knew then, at that moment, I was lost.
OK: I’d known I was lost since she did that impression of the disappearing priest
in her kitchen. But anyway. Neither of us is a Catholic, though sometimes I wish I was.
And Guy Fawkes night was always my favourite, a joyous rocket of luck and fuck and hope.
She once told me it was the same for her. See? Everything connects to everything else.

 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Mar 242014



Walk out the main entrance of Waterloo station, down the steps. You’ll see the Hole In The Wall across the road. I’ll be in there, it’ll be 1994, there’ll be ten Rothmans and a bag of crisps on the table in front of me, some rugby match roaring on the telly in the back bar. We’ll have a pint.

Leave me in the pub, head for the river. Out on the chill, windswept terrace of the Royal Festival Hall you’ll find me with a glass of wine and a far-too-beautiful woman. Don’t look her in the eye. Ask her about her latest play. It’ll be Christmas, 1972. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:36 pm

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